I'm roadtripping to Georgetown University
Richard Branson is speaking to the Gerogetown Business School on Wednesday and I'm going to be there too.
Whoa, I'm going to be in the same room as Richard Branson. The same room! I'm getting closer. There's going to be a lot of other people there too, but I plan to stand out, use some connections, be sneaky, and see just how close I can get to having a beer with Richard Branson.
Now a beer might not go down while I'm in D.C., however, just maybe we can meet briefly, get on his radar, and schedule a beer for sometime later in 2010. Here's the deal...
You can help out...
- Facebook it!
- Tweet it!
- Make a pledge on Kickstarter
- Pledge $10 and I'll take a cool photo of Rice The Squirrel for you
- Pledge $20 and I'll give you all sorts of link love
- Pledge $50 and I'll hook you up with a Beer With Branson t-shirt
- Here's where it gets good...
- Pledge $100 or more and I'll ask Richard Branson to personally call you
- Pledge $250 I'll hook you up with all of the above place ask Richard Branson if I can get a lock of his hair, it's up to you what you do with it
- For this to work I need to raise $250 by 10 a.m. Wedneday, April 21st
Wish me luck and feel free to contact me with any tips to make things happen on Wednesday.
Recently my friend Jeanna was in Austin, TX attending a conference for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (she owns www.bbwhisperingpines.com). While there she met a fellow named Tim. Somewhere in their conversation they started talking about beer. Perhaps because Tim runs a successful beer blog.
Jeanna, who was a host on my 50-state tour, mentioned that she knew a guy who was trying to have a beer with Richard Branson. I can only imagine the "what-a-small-world look" that Tim made at that point when he said, "that guy e-mailed me!"
Small world. Here's what happened...
A while back I was spending some time on Google looking for beer blogs. Eventually it lead me to Here For The Beer, which is one of the best beer blogs I've seen, it's fantastic. The blog is ran by Tim and Amy, who are also bed and breakfast owners in Vermont (www.fortyputneyroad.com).
Coincidentally, they were going to the same conference as my friend Jeanna.
I contacted them both about the possibility of doing a blog post about Beer With Branson. Turns out they now Tellman of Run Tellman Run. It turns out that Tellman met Richard Branson a year ago...
Not bad for stumbling across a beer blog on Google. If I consider Google as a degree of separation it comes to: Google --> Here for the Beer --> Tellman --> Richard Branson. That fits my model of the "Four degrees of Richard Branson" rather than the "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon".
To me at least, it's mind boggling to think that they met and made the connection that they both knew who I was.
How often are we in social situations where we meet someone having no idea that we have shared connections and we only come to those if we touch the topic that connects the two, beer in this case. Clearly things like Facebook have made this easier for us. It's one tool that's extremely influential in making us closer to 3-4 degrees of separation versus six degrees.
At the end of the day it makes me think anyone can know Richard Branson, know someone who has met him, know someone who has worked for him, and the list goes on. It's a matter of branding Beer With Branson and getting momentum behind it so that people like Jeanna or Tim will bring it up on conversation.
I'm feeling pretty inspired from Richard Branson's live chat on WebEx yesterday. And after narrowly missing having my question asked, I'm still incredibly satisfied, and I walked away with a few things too.
Recapping some of the things I learned...
- "It's important for a chairman to let his hair down" Spend time with all the people involved. Take ideas from others seriously and take a pad of paper out and write them down.
- There is definitely a recurring theme of being a good listener and encouraging new ideas. It's interesting to hear as I'm reading Orbiting The Giant Hairball again. There is a very common theme in the book and some of the things Richard Branson mentioned. Ideas should not be squashed. One of the biggest things all employees are seeking is that their ideas be heard. And the @WebEx Twitter profile says "Ideas get better when they are shared". Can't disagree with that.
- Look for the little things when hiring a manager. Hiring the right people is essential. Watch for things such as your manager saying hi to the employees, saying hi to the cleaning lady, taking the time to get to know the employees and making sure they care.
- "I don't have a desk, I have a hammock in the Virgin Islands" - @RichardBranson Nice!
- "We spend most of our lives at work and life should be fun."
- "Screw it, let's do it," is a favorite quip of Branon's. He stresses that in general a life will be greater enjoyed if you spend more time saying 'yes' rather than 'no'. This is how you get things done, and life is about doing. And around the office he's known as Dr. Yes.
- Creating a business is about making a real difference in other peoples lives. If you can do this, then making money will be a biproduct of your efforts. Doing it the other way around won't make you any money.
- Work from home one day of the week. This will help to free things up and allow you to think about the bigger picture. "Companies could be braver in terms of letting their employees work from home more often."
- It seems that he thrives on competition. The word came up a lot, whether it's anticipating new competition, creating new competition, or taking on an existing conglomerate like Coca-Cola. Having the goal to overtake Coca-Cola is pretty ambitious, that's why I admire the man. He admits that it was a little too ambitious, but many people have thought "What if we could overtake Coca-Cola?" Well not many have actually tried.
Yesterday I spent my afternoon watching the WebEx live forum with Richard Branson. I was anxiously waiting for one of my two questions to be answered:
- Will you have a beer with me?
- Was there a certain time in your life or after working on a certain project where you gained the confidence to think, "Hey, I can really do anything I set out to do in life."
A few weeks ago several friends started to send me the same link for WebEx. It was set up to allow people submit questions to Richard Branson and the most popular ones would be asked on the live video feed. So I had to submit my question, a very simple question, "Richard, would you like to have a beer with me?"
I knew that wasn't enough. I knew I had to mobilize my troops: friends, family, fans, and followers. So I did. I tweeted it and Facebooked it and ask people to submit, "Richard, Will you have a beer with Bugsy?"
Just last Thursday my dear friend Julie asked me, "Do you think they'll ask your question to Richard Branson?" I rolled my eyes at her.
The next evening, Friday, I was hanging out at the Bugsy Castle (aka my apartment) when the marketing agnecy for the event called me! I started bouncing off the walls as they told me my qusetion was submitted to be asked during the live interview. Turns out that 22 people had submitted a question on my behalf asking if Richard Branson would have a beer with me. I tried my best do double that number over the weekend.
At last, it was time for the live forum. I anxiously waited with my figners crossed hoping my question would be answered.
The questions came and went and my question was never asked. I supposed it wasn't a "business" qusetion. But who's to say we won't be discussing business over beer?
Yeah, I'm pretty stoked
My question not being asked is only a tiny thought in the back of my head, because I am entirely stoked. Out of a couple thousand questions asked I was able to raise a flag, which resulted in a personal call from the marketing agency wondering what it was all about.
I'm incredibly satisfied because it shows that mobilizing people through social media works. I though me asking the question was just a shot in the dark, and it was. But when you can get a couple dozen people to follow it up that makes a big impact.
A big thanks to everyone who took the time to ask if Richard would have a beer with me. You all helped in making Beer With Branson just a little bit closer to a reality.
I am now connected to Richard Branson through Shaun White. How about getting the three of us together for a a beer? I think that'd be a great trio of people. Shaun and Richard, are you game? Alright, Rice, you can come too. This connection goes down because of Rice The Squirrel, the first squirrel to visit all 50 states.
To prove that I am getting closer to Richard Branson, how about this... I now have a connection to the Richard Branson lookalike, Ted Shevlane. He's even from England, which means he's got an authentic English accent as well. A few years ago Virgin hosted a Richard Branson lookalike contest, Ted won and was featured in a Virgin commercial. Perhaps Richard was too busy for a commercial shoot at the time and they needed a backup? I'm not sure.
I figure if all else fails I could have a beer with the guy that looks like Richard Branson. Heck, if we record it and just make the camera a little fuzzy, nobody will ever know.
This has been one of the most fun connections to date. It cracks me up, I had no idea that something like this would come up. It has made Beer With Branson a blast.
Here's how it came about:
Me --> my friend Becky --> Becky's cousin Stephanie --> Stephanie's friend Louise --> Lousie's father is Ted, the Richard Branson lookalike
Me --> Evan White --> Ian Usher --> Richard Branson
During my 50-state tour I was fortunate to get to know a group of people doing great stuff. One of them was Evan White. Evan put me in touch with his friend Ian who is trying to accomplish 100 goals in 100 weeks. One of those goals: meet Richard Branson. And he did! Here's his story.
Me --> Amber Shinn --> Richard Branson
Since moving to Lansing I've been fortunate to meet a ton of people, people that blow my mind, and got involved with all these things pretty fast to meet all these cool folks. Amber was one of them, actually met her the first week I moved here. Turns out Amber ran into Richard Branson at a music festival once.
Me --> Linda Lynch --> Robin Robins --> Richard Branson
Another Lansing Breakfast Club connection has been through Linda. Her friend attended one of those really expensive business seminars, one that was I belive was hosted by Richard Branson. I'll have to get more details from Linda.
Me --> Stacy --> Steve --> Richard Branson
Now this is definitely one of my favorite connetions so far. Crazy to think, but I actually met Stacy the same time and place I met Amber that first week I was here in Lansing. That first Mid-Mich Tweetup I attended could go a long ways. Stacy put me in touch with her friend Steve who grew up in England, but now lives in nearby Flint. I had a great chat with Steve over the phone. Catch this, back in the 1980s Steve delivered pizza to Richard Branson! That's amazing. This was long before Richard Branson was a billionaire, and Steve started a pizza delivery place around the corner from where Richard Branson was working/living at the time. Steve recalls that Richard Branson knew him on a first-name basis. If Steve is the connection to make it happen he'll be coming along and we'll have to make it pizza and beer with Richard Branson.
Although these connections aren't promisng to get back in touch with Richard Branson yet, I would have no clue about these very close connections if I didn't launch a project like this. It continues to make me believe that "your friend's friend knows Richard Branson, you just don't know it yet".
A must read article.
Richard Branson: What a Life
By Betsy Morris
September 22, 2003
"We're talking about a career that feeds his passions, holds his interest, incorporates his family, allows for his quirks. He loves adventure, and his job provides plenty of it: from his quixotic attempt to save the high-speed Concorde to his dangerous transoceanic hot-air balloon races (he's been rescued four times by helicopter). He has trouble with authority, so the brand he came up with demands that he mock it. He gets bored easily; with Virgin he can constantly reinvent himself. He loves beautiful women, and they are always around. He has an insatiable curiosity, and his job provides the education he was never able to get in a classroom." - Betty Morris on Richard Branson
Since launching Beer With Branson I've educated a lot of people on who Richard Branson is. And without making time to read his full autobiography this article will serve best on understanding who he is. I think a lot of my friends and family would read this and see the similarities (except the part about always having beautiful women around) in the way I like to operate.
I'm stunned how face social media can push a message around the world. Here I am in Michigan, on the near opposite side of the world from New Zealand where I've never been and where I don't know a soul, yet my project has made the rounds there.
Some of my previous projects have been quite successful, but I've never done a project with any kind of international interest. Having a slough of people from New Zealand tweet about my project is all the more reason why something like Beer With Branson is completely feasible. How hard would it have been to get my message passed around in New Zealand ten years ago?
You can get to anybody you want to, you just have to grab it
"The funny thing is that I don't think people recognize that we're living in a day and age where getting to people has never been easier – peoples e-mails, their Twitters, their Facebook fan pages are right there. You know, right in front of you. And all you have to do is ask." - Gary Vaynerchuk
This video couldn't be any more telling and perfect for Beer With Branson. I was stoked to find this because he nails it, all you have to do is ask. What a perfect find, thanks Gary.
Originally from Gary Vaynerchuk's blog
I am already blown away from the initial launch of Beer With Branson. Twitter just has an incredible power of connecting people. I knew this before, but may be learning just how powerful it is. The "retweet", which was created not even a year ago
In just three hours from my initial post to Twitter the message reached a guy in London who works for Virgin. In three hours! And through only three connections
And then this morning @nutts2020 tweeted that he was at a meeting with Richard Branson's daughter
It'is fascinating to see what the connections. If [When] this does go down, it will be interesting to see the final chain of connections that made it happen.
Anyways, pretty stoked from the response from someone. Glad to have supportive friends who are willing to push my ideas are there. Thanks. Keep posted for more to come.